From the rise of digital custom fittings to clothing subscription services to the Hermés Apple Watch, fashion and technology are pushing each other forward. The highly anticipated debut of Raf Simons’ first clothing collection as Prada’s co-creative director—which New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman singled out as “possibly the most anticipated show of the whole season”—pushed that relationship even further this week.
Over the last decade and a half, Raf Simons has hopped from a celebrated run designing at Jil Sander to stints at Christian Dior and Calvin Klein, all the while juggling an eponymous label where he developed highly sought-after garments that mix military themes with a penchant for graphic and text-heavy designs.
Simons has emerged as a favorite of fashion industry insiders, who consider the Belgium-born designer an heir apparent to the influential Antwerp Six class of couturiers. He’s also beloved by rappers like A$AP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert who name check the 52-year-old on their Spotify-dominating odes to excess.
Consequently, all eyes were on the century-old Italian fashion house for Simons’ Milan debut. His inaugural Prada outing borrowed from the Italian designer’s reputation for incorporating nylon and other non-traditional materials while adding streetwear elements such as text-heavy hoodies and kitten-heel pumps with a sneaker-inspired tongue. Several of the models clutched their overcoats closed by hand, signaling a sort of sheltered, almost self-quarantined, look complemented by uniformly steely gazes.
It was a cohesive outing that blended Prada’s attention to silhouette with Raf’s…Rafness…and most if not all of these garments may very well fly off their digital shelves when they become available sometime next year.
But if one innovation rose above mere collaboration on Thursday, it was surely a novel approach to the branding of the collar. The placement of a large and bold Prada logo directly underneath several pieces’ necklines seems ready-made for flaunting on Zoom calls, where traditional label placements lower on the torso might not fit into the frame. Indeed a press release accompanying the show described the collection as a “mediation between technology and humanity.”
At the very least, this latest collection from Prada signals that a new frontier of computer visible conspicuous consumption has arrived.